What's the Greenest building at the Beijing Olympics? It's the Water Cube. The cube is covered with 100,000 square meters of Teflon-like translucent plastic ETFE bubble cladding which allows in more solar heat than glass, making it easier to heat the building, and resulting in a 30 percent reduction in energy costs. This energy savings is equivalent to covering the roof in solar panels. The bubbles are air-tight, and LED-lit. They're only .008 of an inch thick and can hold up to 300 times it's weight and span greater distances than glass. It also costs 70 percent less to install.
A rainwater collection system gathers 10,000 cubic meters each year, while a recycling system reuses 80% of the building's water, crucial in Beijing's drought-plagued landscape. And the building will have a good afterlife. The building will be converted into a recreation facility for residents who not only can swim, but can take advantage of tennis, a waterslide and a cafe. Unlike the nearby "Bird's Nest" stadium which some see as a "white elephant" once the games are done. And no one was killed during construction, unlike the stadium which claimed at least 10 lives.